Happy New Year Everyone! Can you believe we are already a whole week into the new year?! I seem to have dragged my feet a little this year but I have finally made it to the cinema and the honour of my first film of 2019 goes to Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite.
This is my first encounter with Lanthimos’ work and to say it was an experience is a bit of an understatement. If you think you know what to expect from historical dramas and periods pieces, then think again. This is an absurd yet decadent feast of a movie that is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish.
18th century England, the country is at war with the French and a sickly Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) sits on the throne, entrusting her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) to rule the kingdom in her stead. Their friendship is put to the test as the war effort begins to divert Sarah’s attention and the Queen takes a liking to the charming new servant, Abigail (Emma Stone).
The history of the British monarchy is rife with scandal, manipulation and secrecy but The Favourite takes everything that we have come to expect and delivers it in a way that is refreshing, extravagant and wickedly funny. The compelling musical score and intriguing use of camerawork feel like characters in their own right, and add a distinctive edge to the viewing experience.
The costuming and set design are typical of the period and lull you into a false sense of comfortable familiarity, but the modern twists in the dancing scenes and occasional use of off-colour evocative language are subtle yet jarring in way that resonates perfectly with the overall style of the film.
While there were strong performances throughout, from the likes of Nicholas Hoult, Mark Gatiss and Joe Alwyn, none were as intense and intoxicating as those provided by the trio of leading ladies. I have no doubt, there will be awards a-plenty during the awards season.
In her portrayal of Sarah Churchill; friend, lover and confidante, Weisz is charismatic, formidable and imposing, perfectly balancing her political ambitions and her genuine love for Anne. In my mind, this is Weisz’ strongest performance to date and the only threat to a Best Supporting Actress win is her co-star Emma Stone, whose depiction of lady-turned-slave Abigail Hill was a manipulative, masterful work of art.
No matter the strength of Weisz and Stone’s performances, whenever Olivia Coleman was on the screen she stole the show. She delivered great strength and vulnerability, love and mistrust with excellence and sensitivity. Having already won a Golden Globe for her performance (source), an Oscar win seems almost inevitable.
While you may have realised, I really enjoyed this film but I can admit that it is not for everybody. Mum, if you’re reading this, don’t bother, I already know you will hate it.
For everyone else, as always, don’t rely on the opinion of little ol’ me. Go. See for yourselves and let me know what you think.